Hair Diary: Meet Kristal

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About Me...My name is Kristal. I am currently a graduate student studying Biomedical Engineering in pursuit to start a career in the biotechnology field, but my heart is really into crafting and jewelry making. I am the owner/designer of BEadifully YOUnique Jewelry on Etsy that has been up and running since November 2010 and I am totally in love with the artistry behind creating beaded hoop earrings and jewelry. This is where I can really let my creative juices flow without the hustle and bustle of life's stresses. I have a BEAUTIFUL daughter who keeps me running and helps me see how much greater God really cares for His
children. I am currently engaged and the soon to be wife to the most AMAZING fiance' later on this year.
But above all, I am a perfectly imperfect yet growing Christian.

Where do you live? How is the natural hair community there?

I am from Columbia, SC but currently reside in Durham, NC aka Bull City. If I could describe the natural community here, I would put it like this: a natural root was planted in the heart of Durham several years ago and now there are fields of natural sisters blossoming through out the city and surrounding areas. When I first went natural, there were not that many people with natural hair on my college campus or in my Church's congregation. However, as I rocked my natural hair in twists, twist outs, afros, and puffs, more and more sisters really started to notice this awesome versatility with natural hair. It is such a humbling experience to be an encouragement to so many women in their decision to go natural simply because I was never afraid to rock my big natural hair (except during the first several months after the big chop...I had to get over the shock factor of being newly natural). What is even more awesome is that more and more women that I know are sisterlocking their tresses.

When and why did you decide to go natural?
I have been natural since February 13, 2004 after being relaxed since I was 8 years old. When I decided to go natural, none of my friends in my circle were natural at the time so I did not get any external influences when I made my decision to transition back to my natural hair texture. Back then, it was a routine for me to refrain from any relaxers over the summer periods to allow my hair a "break" from any chemical processing. So after my last relaxer back in March 2003, I had already planned to start my hair break until the end of summer right before I started my junior year in undergrad. However, that June I stumbled across http://www.nappturality.com/ and a few days of reading through articles, lurking around the forums, and stalking fotki albums of natural women, I decided then that I would start the transitioning process. Plus at the time, I had cut my hair to the shortest it has ever been...chin length...so the decision to go natural was not as difficult as it could have been.

Were your friends and family supportive of your decision? If not, how were you able to move forward?
My family has been pretty much supportive since I did the big chop in 2004. My mom would ask me every now then during my transitioning phase: "When are you getting a relaxer?" After awhile, she got the point and stopped asking. My friends have been very supportive of my decision from the get go, and my fiance LOVES it. My natural hair is actually what initiated our first connection. :) I guess having a huge support system from the beginning has enabled me to be confident with my natural hair over the years.

Describe your current hair routine.
I am now all about KISS: Keeping It Simple Sister. I struggled with this thing called a hair routine/regimen until last year when I decided I want to grow my hair out to waist length. I did lots of research on hair forums and YouTube to help me develop my simple yet effective hair routine.

I wash my hair once a week, usually Friday night or Saturday morning (shampoo, condition, detangle, moisturize with leave in conditioner mix), braid my hair, and call it a day. I re-moisturize my hair mid week by wetting it and applying my leave-in conditioner. I wear a satin bonnet faithfully at night because I do not like the feel of satin pillowcases...it gives me the chills. That is pretty much it! Not much manipulation going on meaning more hair retention, which is my goal. Besides, this simple routine has given me consistent results and 4-5 inches of healthy new growth since last March. Why complicate things now? :)

What are some of your favorite products?
For my shampoo, I alternate between Curlicious Curls Cleansing Cream (Moisturizing Shampoo), Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo, and Pure Curls Clarifying Shampoo (once every 6 weeks). For my conditioner, I use Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deep Moisture Conditioner and Curl Ecstasy Hair Tea Organic Conditioner (deep conditioner). As far as my moisturizing leave-in, I am using a modified version of YouTuber Kimmaytube's recipe:

2 tablespoons Kinky Curly Knot Today, 2 tablespoons Aloe Vera Juice, 2 teaspoons Jojoba Oil, 2 teaspoons Coconut Oil, 1 teaspoon Castor Oil.

As you can see, I am no product junkie.

Do you have any hair goals? What steps are you taking to achieve them?
My current hair goal is to reach healthy waist length hair, which I am on track to meet by the end of this year. I am about half an inch away from mid-back length and got to this length through protective styling. March 2010, I decided to go on a 1 year protective styling challenge with braiding my hair and wearing wigs as my two methods of protection. Some people may frown upon wearing wigs and weaves, but then there are those who oppose naturals straightening their hair. You cannot please everyone and just have to focus on what YOU are trying to achieve and not what others might say to you along your natural journey.

My wigs have always been curly and no more than a few inches longer than my real hair length at any given time. So it is not like I am trying to be all outrageous with the length of my wigs. I have a goal in mind, and braiding my natural hair and wigging it have been my keys of successfully reaching toward my goal. Once I reach my waist length though, I do not plan on wearing wigs on a regular basis...only when I would like a color change every now and then!

How has being natural changed you?
Being natural has also gave me a sense of empowerment to help others embrace their natural hair texture and know they can be beautiful without chemically altering their tresses. It amazes me how many sisters in my Church congregation who have gone natural over the past 5 years simply because they were encouraged and knew they had the support to embark on their natural hair journeys. Some people can take the plunge on their own, but a simple 'You can do this! I am here for you' can mean the world to someone who struggling with the decision to go natural or stay natural for that matter.

What are your top 5 obsessions?
1) Making unique beaded hoop earrings. I can do this all day everyday if I had the option. Maybe one day, that will come true...
2) Growing my hair out to waist length. I have always been amazed and inspired at looking at other women with natural hair down their backs. It is my mission to achieve long lengths so I can be the walking example to defy those who believe that African-American women cannot grow long natural hair beyond shoulder and arm pit lengths.
3) Currently, wedding planning. I am not anywhere near to being a bridezilla, but I am ready to tie the knot and move on to the next level of my life.
4) Styling my daughter's hair. It amazes me how much my daughter's hair has transformed in less than a year and an half! It has only gotten better with time, and her texture is absolutely beautiful and thick. I am excited to learn how to manage her hair so I teach her how to style her hair and properly take care of it later on down the road. What is surreal is that her hair is similar to mine in the front and like her father's in the back (he had long hair years ago so I remember his texture).
5) My fiance's cream cheese pound cake! He knows he can do it up, too! :)

Anything else you would like to add...
I have a YouTube channel under the username "BEadifully YOUnique" (http://www.youtube.com/user/BEadifullyYOUnique), which I opened December 2010. I have already posted my natural hair care regimen and staple hair products and plan to post hair tutorials on how to style mid back to waist length hair as the year progresses.

My fotki albums are under the usernames "Naturallybeautiful" (http://public.fotki.com/naturallybeautiful) and "Naturallybeautiful2" (http://public.fotki.com/naturallybeautiful2). The first account contains albums from my transitioning phase and first year of being natural. The second account is from 2006 until now, which I am updating on a monthly basis.

You can also find me on twitter under "beadifullyouniq" (http://twitter.com/BEadifullYOUniq) where I tweet with women about natural hair and tweet pictures of my hair along with my daughter's natural hair.

My motto for my jewelry shop and life in general is to Be.You.Always. Whatever life takes you, make the best out of it by just being yourself. There is no other person on this earth exactly like you. Therefore, embrace that honor and love your beautifully and wonderfully made self. That is it! :)

I would like to thank you Shana for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my story with you and your readers! :)

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